Top universities for psychology | Top Universities

Top universities for psychology

By Keshala Jayawickrama

Updated January 29, 2024 Updated January 29, 2024

The recently released QS World University Rankings by Subject features 336 of the top higher education institutions for studying psychology.  

The QS World University Rankings by Subject are based on five indicators: academic reputation, employer reputation, research citations per paper, international research network and the H-index citations (a way of measuring the productivity and published work of a scientist or scholar). You can find more details about the methodology behind the subject rankings here.  

Read on to learn more about the best psychology schools in each region. Alternatively, if you would like to explore the 336 schools in further detail, click here to view the full table.  

Top 10 universities for psychology in the world  

Based on the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2023 

Rank  

Institution  

Location  

1  

Harvard University  

United States  

2  

University of Oxford  

United Kingdom  

3  

University of Cambridge  

United Kingdom  

4  

Stanford University  

United States  

UCL (University College London)  

United Kingdom  

Yale University  

United States  

Columbia University 

United States 

8  

University of Michigan-Ann Arbor  

United States  

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)  

United States  

10 

University of Amsterdam 

Netherlands 

 See the full ranking for psychology schools here >  

Top universities for psychology in the US and Canada  

The US has 87 universities offering courses in psychology, including 24 of the top 50 universities in the world.   

One of these is the world’s best university for psychology, Harvard University, retaining its first-place position for the eighth year in a row. Harvard University’s psychology department has included some of the most famous names in psychology, including B.F. Skinner, Gordon Allport, Jerome Bruner, George Miller, and Henry Murray.  

There are a further 23 US institutions in the global top 50, notably Stanford University (ranked fourth), Yale University which climbed up the rankings by seven places to sixth place, Columbia University which climbed up 15 places to seventh and University of Michigan-Ann Arbor who climbed up by 24 places to eighth.  

Stanford University offers several short online psychology courses to any students who are interested through their Stanford Online platform powered by the Stanford Center for Professional Development.  

There are 18 Canadian universities offering psychology courses, with three of these placing in the top 50: University of Toronto placed first in Canada and 15th globally, University of British Columbia ranked 22nd globally and McGill University ranked 28th globally. The highest scores attained by all three universities are for the H-index citations and their academic reputations. 

Top universities for psychology in Europe  

152 of the best universities for psychology are based in Europe this year, with 14 schools making it into the global top 50.   

The UK has a total of 45 universities offering psychology courses this year and six top 50 entrants. The University of Oxford stands out as the top university for psychology in the UK and Europe, securing a remarkable third place globally. The highest scores achieved by the university are for employer reputation for which it’s ranked second globally and for academic reputation for which they are ranked third globally. 

The second most-represented European country in our psychology ranking is Germany, with a total of 23 entrants. The best university in Germany for psychology courses is Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, which is ranked 55th globally. The Netherlands boasts a total of 11 psychology courses, with the University of Amsterdam leading the way as the highest-ranked institution in the country and securing an impressive ninth position globally. Five universities from the Netherlands, including the University of Amsterdam have made their way into the global top 50 this year. 

Spain claims 10 schools recognised for their psychology degrees, with Universitat de Barcelona the highest-ranked university in the country with a global rank of 64th. Additionally, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid has also managed to secure a spot within the top 100 this year, ranked 81st.  

Italy is home to nine universities for psychology degrees, with three top 100 entries:  Sapienza - Università di Roma (61st), Alma Mater Studiorum - Università di Bologna (84th), and Università di Padova (89th).  

Belgium, Switzerland and Sweden have six entrants each included in this year’s list and three universities from Belgium, one university from Switzerland and one university from Sweden are within the global top 100. The psychology programmes at KU Leuven in Belgium stand out as the highest-ranked among all three countries, securing 18th position globally. 

Denmark and Finland each have four entrants this year, while Austria and Norway boast three each. Additionally, Poland has two, and Hungary and Romania each have a single entrant in this year's rankings. 

Top universities for psychology in Asia  

There are 37 Asian universities offering psychology courses this year. Two of the best universities for psychology in Asia are based in Singapore. National University of Singapore ranked 21st globally and first in Asia is also known as Singapore’s oldest psychology programme. Coming in second at 32nd place globally is Nanyang Technological University (NTU), also located in Singapore. 

The most represented location in Asia for psychology schools is mainland China, with 10 schools featured. However, only one of these schools has managed to make it into the global top 50, which is Peking University ranked 49th. 

South Korea, Japan and Hong Kong each have five universities included in this year’s psychology rankings. Of these, the highest-ranked is University of Hong Kong, ranked 36th in the world. Four universities from these three countries have also secured spots in the global top 100 including, Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) ranked 45th, University of Tokyo ranked 79th and Korea University ranked 90th.  

Meanwhile, Taiwan has two entrants and Malaysia, India, Saudi Arabia and Macau SAR each have one university featured in this year’s psychology rankings.   

Top universities for psychology in Australia and New Zealand  

An impressive 28 top universities for psychology are found in Australia and New Zealand with 23 based in Australia and the remaining five in New Zealand.   

The highest-ranked university in Australia is The University of Melbourne ranked 19th globally, whereas New Zealand’s top university for psychology is The University of Auckland in 62nd place.  

Four more Australian universities have managed to make it into the global top 50, including The University of New South Wales (UNSW) ranked 25th; University of Sydney ranked 27th; University of Queensland (UQ) ranked 30th; and The University of Western Australia ranked 50th. 

Top universities for psychology in Latin America  

Overall, in the Latin America region, there are 12 top psychology schools ranked this year.  

With four entrants in total, Chile is home to the best psychology school in the region: Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile ranked 63rd Mexico’s sole entrant, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) follows closely behind, ranked 73rd. Brazil has three entrants, Columbia has two entrants and Argentina, Mexico and Peru each have a single entrant in this year’s psychology rankings.   

Top universities for psychology in Africa  

Only two African schools makes it into the global rankings for psychology this year. University of Cape Town is ranked first in the region with a global rank of 151-200 and Stellenbosch University comes second with a global rank of 301-330. 

FAQ 

Which psychology course is best? 

The best psychology course depends on individual preferences and career goals. According to the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2023, the top 10 universities for psychology globally are as mentioned above in the article.  

Regional highlights include Harvard University leading in the US, University of Toronto leading in Canada, University of Oxford standing out in the UK and Europe, and National University of Singapore leading in Asia. Additionally, the University of Melbourne is the highest-ranked in Australia, and Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile is the best universities for psychology in Latin America.  

In Africa, the University of Cape Town and Stellenbosch University are the only two institutions included in the psychology university ranking. 

What is a psychology course? 

A psychology course is an educational programme that explores the scientific study of the mind, behavior, and mental processes. It covers various topics such as cognitive processes, human development, abnormal psychology, and social interactions.  

Psychology courses are offered at different academic levels, including undergraduate and graduate levels, and they provide students with a foundational understanding of psychological theories, research methods, and practical applications in areas such as counseling, clinical psychology, or organisational psychology. 

Is psychology a medical course? 

No, psychology is not inherently a medical course. While psychology involves the scientific study of the mind and behavior, it is a broad field that encompasses various aspects of human cognition and emotion.  

Psychiatry, however, is a medical specialty related to mental health. Psychiatrists are medical doctors who specialise in the diagnosis, management, and prevention of mental health problems. So, it ultimately depends on your interests and the path you decide to take with your degree.  

What can you do with a psychology degree? 

A psychology degree opens doors to diverse career paths, encompassing traditional roles like psychologist, psychotherapist, social worker, and counselor. In education, graduates can become teachers or specialise as educational psychologists. Research opportunities exist in various sectors, including universities, to contribute to policy development or industry issues.  

Additionally, psychology graduates can explore less conventional paths in media, human resources, communications, business, and management, leveraging their understanding of human behavior for roles spanning in media production, employee satisfaction, business consultancy, and more.  

The degree's versatility allows individuals to navigate in a diverse range of industries such as healthcare, education, mental health support, social work, therapy, counseling, media, business, and beyond, with some roles requiring further study and others offering on-the-job training. 

This article was originally published in March 2021 . It was last updated in January 2024

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